First Cup: Friday

  • Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Part of the Jazz's future is now wonderfully clear. The rest remains terribly blurry. Deron Williams' contract extension is the centerpiece of the Jazz's 2008 offseason, a $50 million (or more) development that gives the point guard and his team some security. Of course, everybody knew Williams was going to re-sign with the Jazz this month. So the only trouble with this resolution it is leaves so many other issues unanswered. Everything's cloudy regarding the long-term futures of center Mehmet Okur and forwards Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko, thanks to the team's obvious inability to pay all of them at market value forever."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle: "Let's not rehash the Rockets vs China loyalty again, but those who think Yao would risk his future by returning from such a major injury too soon are probably off. No one, not even the Chinese government, would benefit from Yao defying doctor's orders to take to the court. Though he might not be 100 percent at the Olympics, there is no reason to believe he won't be fully healed when the NBA season begins in November. With the type injury Yao had -- and I have talked to a host of doctors who are experts on this (including Yao's surgeon and the doctor who told Michael Jordan not to come back when he returned and scored 63 points against the Celtics in the playoffs) -- his future may depend more on genetics and luck than when he chooses to return to play."

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: "And every time, Jay Triano takes the jibes and the shots and all the snide comments and smiles, knowing it was a day when Canada ruled the United States in basketball. It's been 25 years and a few days since that occasion in Edmonton, a moment that's still among the most significant in Canadian basketball history, the day a group of university kids beat a star-studded American team en route to the gold medal at the FISU Games. 'Charles Barkley, every time I see him, he says the whole country of Canada cheated them,' Triano joked this week. 'Ed Pinckney, I saw him in Istanbul and we were talking about it. I saw Johnny Dawkins with USA Basketball and I reminded him about it.'"

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Tyronn Lue and Malik Allen saw an opportunity to make a real impact. Lue, a 6-foot point guard, and Allen, a 6-10 power forward, signed with the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, offering further proof that general manager John Hammond is trying to build a winning team in the near term. The two National Basketball Association veterans bring a certain savvy that could prove essential as the Bucks try to rebound from a dismal 26-56 finish last season."

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "How ironic is it if Stephon Marbury's roster spot is taken by a former undrafted D-leaguer (Anthony Roberson) who played in Istanbul and Israel last season? The Knicks have 16 guaranteed contracts -- one too many -- and now have to cut a player, with Jerome James and Marbury on the chopping block. Walt Frazier, who's broadcasting summer league games with Mike Crispino on MSG Network, said he still believes Marbury should get a chance to strut his stuff at training camp in Saratoga on Sept. 30. 'I wouldn't rule him out yet,' Frazier told The Post. 'I think bringing him to camp to see what he looks like, I think they should. He gets $20 million, he might as well help this team. I think he's willing to sacrifice. His reputation has been tarnished. He's got something to prove. I saw him (Monday) and he looked great.'"

  • Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee: "There's only one road in Brad Miller's mind, and that's to recovery. In a remorseful and candid interview, the Kings center who failed a drug test for a third time because of marijuana use late last season discussed his transgressions for the first time publicly Thursday. Miller was suspended for the first five games of this coming season and will lose approximately $693,000 of his $11.3 million salary. Yet as he talked by phone while his 18-month-old daughter Anniston played in the background, he said the lost wages don't matter nearly as much as the importance of changing his ways."

  • Marcus Thompson II of the Contra Costa Times: "Warriors' followers may be waiting for Brandan Wright to leap into stardom, a la guard Monta Ellis. But Wright is fine with steady progression. He isn't pining for All-Star births or anxiously waiting his chance to hit game-winning shots. He's looking forward to hours of dribbling, thousands of shots, sets of weights. He isn't looking to be the man right now but to feed off his teammates. Unlike many highly talented athletes his age, Wright isn't in a hurry to reach his peak but content with the process of getting there. He's the type who instead makes sure to cover all his bases, do all the little things and let everything else fall into place."

  • Michael C. Lewis of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Samad Bahrami and his teammates are visiting Utah on a mission clouded by grave political overtones. But it has nothing to do with missile tests, nuclear ambitions, terrorism or the threat of war. For them, it's all about basketball. Bahrami is the captain of the national basketball team of Iran - the nation that President Bush once denounced as part of an "axis of evil" and whose own religious leaders for years have urged 'death to America' in rallies and prayers. Yet while his team's historic participation in the annual Rocky Mountain Revue summer league that starts today has stirred international attention because of the strained relationship between the respective governments, Bahrami and his teammates insist that politics is not their game. 'We are just looking for sport and basketball,' Bahrami said. 'For us, it's great, because everybody knows basketball in the United States. It is the most popular sport. ... We just come here to take the experience and play with the good players and improve our odds of our game.'"